Pull Ups are a staple exercise for developing strength in the back, biceps and core which all sounds great but how many of you actually do them? We constantly throw them in to our group training and personal training programs because of their worth as an outright exercise but aside the development of strength they also bring a challenge. To most people this becomes a physical challenge because they can’t do them unassisted, or in their raw format they have to conduct series of variants in order to prepare their body to haul their mass from arms length, to a position where their chin is higher than the bar they are pulling.

In 2005 I applied to join the Royal Marines. Upon my application I wasn’t the fastest runner or the strongest mover but there was a basic entry test. The basic entry test was; 60 Press Ups, 90 Sit Ups, (two minutes for each) 1.5 mile run in less than 10 minutes, level 14 on the bleep test and 14 Pull Ups (amongst other physical and mental tasks). Tough stuff. But relating this all back to our programs and the amount of times we get asked ‘why can’t I do these?’ It’s simply because your body (until now) has never needed to, but that doesn’t take away how effective they are as an exercise for developing pull specific strength in the back, biceps and core.
I remember back to when I couldn’t even do one myself. In actual fact, I didn’t even have anything to do pull ups from. I bastardised a Heath Robinson frame out of scrap pipe and placed it over the back gate (still there today). I made a pledge to myself that every time I passed it I would attempt the exercise. This started my campaign of being able to do pull ups, after all I had 14 to do when it mattered most.
It seems odd me speaking of this. In one sense it seems I failed in the first instance by not being able to do them, but when I demo them now ‘it looks easy’. This is largely because I’ve been doing them for 15 years but before my application I didn’t even know what a pull up was. As the saying goes… if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.
This ideology has allowed me personally, and many of our clients to go above and beyond their own expectations and achieve some pretty amazing things!